Brooklyn Heights

Candy-covered tree a labor of love at Brooklyn Heights co-op

December 23, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pamela Harwood stands beside the eye-catching Christmas tree in the lobby of a Brooklyn Heights co-op. She created the candy ornaments on the tree and led a holiday workshop for kids. Photo by Mary Frost
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Visions of sugar plums danced in Pamela Harwood’s head this Christmas — along with gumballs, jelly beans, Sugar Dots, Sweet Tarts, Tootsie Rolls, ice cream cones, Candy Corn and Red Hots.

Harwood is the brains (and hands) behind a stunning 12-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of a Brooklyn Heights co-op that literally meets the definition of eye candy.

The ornaments — put together from pounds of candy, plus papier-mâché, glue and (in the case of the cupcakes) plaster — are a work of love for Harwood. Like one of Santa’s elves, she has been cutting, pasting and glue-gunning sugar treats in her workshop since September.

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Candy corns form a starburst; a Candy Dot ribbon festoons the tip of the tree. Sweet Tarts are glued around a foam core to resemble a colorful Sputnik. Harwood says she came up with the various designs on her own.

“I want to show people there’s more than a generic Christmas tree,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Candy is universal. Everybody smiles at candy. Kids love it, elderly kids love it. The Sugar Plum Fairy, it’s all based on fantasy. What’s the meaning of Christmas? It’s to make people happy.”

Doormen have been raving about the decorations. One of them corralled this reporter. “You have to interview this lady!” he said. Residents walk up to Harwood and thank her for the display.

It’s not just a pretty tree for Harwood, who taught art at I.S. 281 Joseph B. Cavallaro School in Bensonhurst for 28 years. For the second year running, she led a holiday decoration workshop for kids and their parents at the co-op, and the community room walls are covered in children’s drawings of Santa (with cotton ball beards), menorahs, snow men and other cheerful scenes.

Pamela Harwood stands beside the 12-foot Christmas tree loaded with her candy decorations. Photo by Mary FrostDozens of children, from toddlers to seniors, attended this year. “For every piece the kids made the parents did one, too. It’s a way to bring people together in the building. To me, that’s holiday,” she said.

Harwood says the kids always amaze her. “I always try to teach them something new. This year I showed them how to make three-dimensional trees, and showed them other possibilities. The kids always take it a step further. Their imaginations are better than ours.”

After the workshop, the children helped hang the pictures in the community room. “It was so satisfying, like a big art class.”

The tree and workshop were a community effort, Harwood says. This year the co-op and the Brooklyn Women’s Group, which meets in the building, donated some funds to help pay for materials. Toby Zimmerman, Dr. Isabel Pascale, Karen Andreozzi and other Women’s Group members assisted at the workshop, and co-op maintenance workers climbed the ladder to help distribute the ornaments on the tree.

Harwood says the candy ornaments won’t be used again next year.

“It’s going to be different every year,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll run out of ideas. It’s a challenge.”

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